It was a rather quiet flight home. There were no kids crying, no parents screaming… no young drunks singing. And so I pretty much slept the whole 4 and change hours away. Still, I think I have a cold. A cold, however, is a very small price to pay for the memories that were made this past week while at a family wedding in Vancouver.
While I was so very thrilled to see my first cousins again, I must confess that I was driven to get to know their children better – the next generation. There were so many “new” faces: Alex and Matt, Anna and Hugo, Misha and Jenn, Amy and Josh, Devin and Jenny, Rachael and Hoby, and finally Carrie-Lynn. And then there was the next even younger crew, the babies and toddlers: Jack, Theo, Leo, Misha, and Lexi. Wow.
While our parents ensured that we, the first cousins, were all connected, I am afraid we, the next generation, have not done the same. We get busy with life. We get busy with kids and work and neglect our roots – which connect and ground us. They give us a sense of context. Family is context.
I brought the Malloff family photo album with me to Vancouver to show the “next generation” where they came from. They flipped through the pages and consumed the images before them with great appetite. There were questions, challenges, comments. And Pam, our family historian, addressed them with a smile on her face. I watched the scene unfold. The “elder” was passing along tradition, history, and … context.
Maybe context is more like glue. Glue that holds family together and gives us strength? We care for each other, we understand more about ourselves when we are together, we feel more complete when we can share stories with one another.
They were such characters: Bill, Anne, Helen, and Paula. Their character was built through toil and hard work. They were the first born children to an immigrant family trying to forge a life in a land that was foreign. It took hard work to raise a family in a country that spoke a different language, had different traditions and cultures, and different values. They had to find a balance between the old world and the new world. They wanted to “fit in”, yet maintain their own identity. They glued their children together – and that bond lasted. Being raised in the same house, the same province, and the same country helped. Over time, the children moved away and raised their own families. Yet, they stayed together. We, the second generation were taught to value our families and to communicate with each other. Hence, why we got together this past week in Vancouver for the meeting of the “third” generation. Not everyone could attend. The family has grown so much in size and each has children at different stages in life. But – one day – each will realize that there is nothing more important than our roots…
And the family glue will stick.
I love my roots. I love the traditions, the music, the culture. Over the years, it will fade, it will undergo metamorphosis. I realize this. That’s okay. These things can serve as our common denominator as long as we make the effort to stick together. Family is our context. It is a way to put meaning to our lives. With meaning, we survive from generation to generation.
Yes, a cold is indeed a very small price to pay for a week that helped me find my roots and my context and inspired the next generation to apply a little “glue”.